Senior Editor, Outlaw Patriot News
Much has been made over the past week or so following the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 by Obama of the insertion into it of HR 5181, the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, and what it means for the independent media. I definitely urge everyone that reads this article to read those two pieces of legislation and come to their own conclusions on what this law means for free and independent media, and how it will affect the covering of world, national, and local level events. In a time when public confidence in the old media is waning after the past year of clear attempts to influence the election in the direction of one candidate and party – and a candidate and party that was shown to have rigged their own primaries and put national security at risk by knowingly storing extremely sensitive information on an unsecured private network. But in this article, I wanted to show to the American public, and in particular the portion of the public that does rely on independent media to stay informed on current events, how this law comes together with a recent policy within the Office of Personnel Management (which handles the vast majority of security clearance background investigations) that could very well impact the careers of truth seekers, truth tellers, and whistleblowers within the US intelligence community.
Do you remember a little over a year ago when some 50 intelligence analysts from US CENTCOM alerted the Pentagon that intelligence reports that they were putting together were being altered in order to give the appearance that the war against ISIS was going better than it actually was? They took their concerns to the Inspector General following complaints being ignored by superiors. And some who complained were forced into retirement and others just simply walked away. Apparently senior leadership was changing the reports for political gain of the current administration.
Or maybe you remember just two months ago when intelligence community veteran, Steve Pieczenik, came out on his own website, via YouTube, and other independent media platforms to talk about the counter-coup going on within the intelligence community against Hillary Clinton? In the video linked here and in interviews across the independent media, Mr. Pieczenik spoke about the disdain of Mrs. Clinton and her inner circle by many within the intelligence community, and how they were fighting back against her coup and her campaign, especially in light of her not being charged with crimes that would have seen any one of them go to jail for probably the rest of their lives if they had done the same. It was a powerful message to the American people from a group of insiders that have had their community maligned by revelations of what was supposedly one of their own – Edward Snowden. But despite that, these men and women, who had sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, came forward to tell the public that they stood with them in this tremendous time of duplicity within the American election system.
However, this kind of truth telling from within the American intelligence community is now at risk to be stamped out. In May of 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (who, let’s not forget, perjured himself in testimony before Congress) signed a policy for the Office of Personnel Management to begin looking at the “publicly available” social media posts of people undergoing investigation or re-investigation for a security clearance. On the surface, this looks very benign…we want to know the people that are handling and safeguarding national security information to be upstanding citizens, with no compromising material out in the public that any one of our adversaries could use to blackmail them, right? And certainly, social media posts do present a unique security risk for operations and integrity of our intelligence systems. I have personally had to reprimand people subordinate to me for posting sensitive (not classified, but sensitive) information to their social media accounts.
But when taken together with this new legislation and the possible meaning for independent media, this represents a tool for the “shadow government” of bureaucrats and political appointees to ensure that only like-minded individuals gain access to sensitive information and are within the agencies and departments that inform the administration of intelligence information. If investigators come across a subject that posts independent media or makes political views public, will that influence their decision to grant this person a security clearance? If certain independent media sources are labeled as propaganda or disinformation outlets, yet these applicants post articles from them, will this influence their ability to serve? I mean…it’s not like government agencies routinely abuse their power to silence groups based upon their political affiliations, right?
Those that work within the intelligence community by their very nature are very analytical and free-thinking. They often see commonalities, patterns, and links that most of the rest of the population simply don’t see. This lends itself very well to the kinds of reporting that independent media typically does, because often times those in the independent media do the same, and to be honest, journalism requires much of the same ability – at least, real journalism. The true danger, if OPM does begin to deny clearances based upon these criteria, is that the American intelligence community could very well become the same kind of echo chamber we already see from the old media and establishment politicians. “Group think” and “echo chambers” do nothing for producing true journalism, and they are particularly dangerous in the business of intelligence, where wrong information could lead to the deaths of those that execute US foreign policy around the world. And while we can hold out hope that a new administration in this country can make changes in the way we do business and in our foreign policy, if they are not aware of the threat to our national security by measures such as these, it could very well influence the way the new administration views the world.